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Photography is not a contact sport. Yet these days, a camera bag in public feels like an invitation to conflict. We’re seeing photographers robbed in parks and confronted on downtown sidewalks. Their backpacks are being ripped from vehicles during smash and grab robberies, sometimes while the owners are still in the car.

None of these victims “were asking for it.” They were going about their craft with cameras, lenses, and accessories they believed were helpful to produce the images they desired. But do they really need all that gear with them? I submit they do not. A swinging camera bag…


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Generally speaking, photographers aren’t homebodies. It’s not that we don’t enjoy taking pictures of the cat or what we ate for lunch, but it’s hard to make a living memorializing a grilled cheese.

I’ve been looking for something new, something different, a rose-colored filter to put over my lens to transform my neighborhood into a visually exciting existence. My search led me out of the visible spectrum into an unseen world called infrared photography.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it works.

Our eyes can see but a slice of the electromagnetic spectrum. If you want to get…


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When I turned on the TV to watch the certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I did not anticipate seeing images of Americans storming the Capital to gain unlawful entrance. What should have been a day to celebrate the peaceful transition of power had plummeted into chaos.

Immediately, I pulled out my iPhone and began to capture images of the TV screen. The pictures tell a grim story. And it is history that I will not allow myself to forget.

I was alive during the Vietnam conflict. It was a traumatic event in American history that seemed to last…


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Fujifilm X100V and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Headline: Smartphones are Killing the Camera Industry!
Body Text: Actually, it’s the bag manufacturers that should be worried.
Conclusion: You can trim your kit to just your favorite camera and a smartphone, and leave the backpack full of photo gear behind.

Here’s one way to do it.

Most casual snap shooters settle on a single camera. That’s all they need to preserve the moments of their life. And in this day and age, that memory keeper is no longer the DSLR hanging around dad’s neck or the stylish compact in mom’s purse. …


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Black and white photography is not merely the absence of color. In the right hands, monochrome pictures artistically blend shapes and tones to help us see life more clearly.

We believe black and white photos are truthful even though the world is in color. The feeling is that we’ve stripped away all the distractions and are left with the essence of a subject.

Try to imagine Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V-J Day in Times Square” as a color image. As a monochrome, there’s the crisp white of the woman’s dress against the dark tones of the sailor’s uniform. The lyrical curve of…


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Years before he died in a plane crash, Galen Rowell spoke at a camera club in Santa Rosa, CA. He shared a valuable bit of information during his talk, and afterward I thanked him for solving my biggest challenge in photography: proper exposure.

This was a moment in the 1990s before computational photography and mirrorless cameras. We had a lot riding on every press of the shutter button. 36 exposures on a roll of film — each one cost money to process and print. And I was tired of wasting my allowance.

Too many of my pictures were excessively dark…


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I’ve always been fascinated by colorful movie characters who repaired clocks in their quaint shops. They seemed to know things that the rest of us miss. It’s as if the answer to life is tucked away behind those tiny metal springs and delicate brass gears.

In 2015 I began my own version of this story. I started fixing and selling film cameras. It was the most unconscious career move I had ever made. I stumbled into the job by merely wanting to shoot film again. …


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Lighting is everything in photography. The camera is only a tool to implement what is observed. For decades now, the industry has worked hard to create foolproof devices that save us from doing the number one thing any photographer should do, which is seeing the light.

Why do they feel the need to do this? Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios.

Two women at the beach, standing side by side, taking in the scene before them. The subject, a little girl, is 10 yards away — an excellent photo opportunity.

The first woman notices the strong backlight, a…


Moments Before the Door Closed

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Venice Beach, CA.

On the morning of March 13, 2020, five of us with cameras squeezed into an Uber in Santa Monica and gazed out the window during the short ride to Venice Beach. We were there on self-assignment. We wanted to document how life was changing in L.A. during the early days of coronavirus. Thanks to my long legs, I rode shotgun in the silver SUV.

“Aren’t you nervous about it?” the driver asked me as we arrived.

“I am,” I replied.

He looked concerned as he turned his eyes back to the road. And he didn’t say another word until we…


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If we’ve learned nothing else from the surge of smartphones in photography, we’ve seen that size doesn’t matter, brains do.

The Apple Event on October 13, 2020 debuted the iPhone 12 with Apple ProRaw that can go up against any enthusiast camera for general photography. It provides tremendous capability with an image sensor that’s minuscule compared to those in many interchangeable lens models.

What Apple, Google, Samsung, and other smartphone makers are leveraging is smarts, not muscle. Computational photography depends less on the light-gathering sensor itself and more on the programming and processors that comprise the image pipeline.

It’s revenge…

Derrick Story

Photography, podcasting, and writing. More at www.thedigitalstory.com and www.thenimblephotographer.com

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